When the show started, Alex McCord was a stiff but striking woman married to a poufy peacock named Simon Van Kampen, an Australian with an improbable name and possible fake accent. Simon “Managed a Boutique Hotel in Midtown,” and Alex “Used to Model.” And like many Brooklyn parents I know, they had young children with ridonkulous names (“Johann” and “Francois.”)
Alex and Simon were pretty clear about trying to climb various impenetrable social ladders in New York and probably read the society pages very earnestly, thought about how to go about getting in them, and miscalculated. Spectacularly. They thought, “OK. So we’ll go to St. Barth’s in August when no one is there and Simon will wear a thong on camera we’ll appear on this reality show and THAT will be our ticket to hanging with mysterious beautiful people who are always photographed looking bored with Mick Jagger in Morocco. Done!”
Simon is pretty over the top. He loves to play with fashion, not only for himself, which he does to disastrous consequence of red patent leather pants and purple cummerbund/tie combos, but also women’s fashion. He LOVES going shopping with Alex, watching her try on clothes, model, twirl around, while making Zoolander faces, and moaning about how fantastic her body looks in Versace.
But even at their most creepy, I find Alex and Simon harmless and lovable. Mostly because I recognize them as nothing worse than strivers – which is what most so many New Yorkers are – even the ones who live in the outer boroughs! And now it's clear to me, looking back at those hazy days of Season One when they had social mishap after embarrassing scene, when their pretentiousness was beyond silly and their children beyond horrible, that maybe they were just totally exhausted and just trying to get the hell away from their kids, who at the time were probably one-and-a-half and three. Ugh. Who wouldn’t go on a reality show if it meant you could be going to the opera in a limo, while your children whined to someone else for the eightieth time about wanting to watch another "Diego?"
So Alex really has grown on me, and at present is one of the only Housewives I can imagine hanging out with. Though she can be brittle and odd, has some difficulty with misplaced anger and needing to get things off her chest, and probably has some weirdo skeletons in those California Closets filled with Simon’s fave designers, it was incredibly gratifying to hear her yelling, unhinged, at Jill in season 3: “Jill, you are a Mean Girl and you are in high school! And while you are in high school I am in Brooklyn!” Yes, yes, and yes.
* Sheer Elegance is profiling the seven Real Housewives of NYC protagonists all week long, leading up to the Season 4 premiere on April 7.
See the Jill Zarin profile here.
See the Ramona Singer profile here.
See the LuAnn de Lesseps profile here.